Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Golden Rule of the Internet?

Look, you don't have to be credulous or fact, you don't have to believe pro football player Golden Tate's denials of some of the sordid reports about him that have appeared on the Internet.

But his words in this article are right on in an era when gossip has gone viral and when a favorite hobby of many is to drag others down on the Internet, celebrities and even ordinary people whose only "crime" is that someone, for some reason, finds them mockable. (Think of the young woman that dozens of web wags thought had been caught on national TV stepping out during Ohio State's recent Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. The video with scandalous inferences burned up the Internet. But very few people with whom I've spoken know that the inferences were wrong and the man whose head she had touched was not a side interest, but her boyfriend.)

Tate begins by writing of himself as pro player in the public eye:
You don’t know me.

Sure, by watching the NFL and playing fantasy football, you are aware of me as No. 15 on the Detroit Lions. You saw me win a Super Bowl last season with the Seattle Seahawks. You comment on my on-field celebrations and my perceived brashness. You frame what you think of me based on that, and how I perform, and what’s said and written about me by newspapers and magazines and blogs and talking heads. 

But you don’t know me, Golden Tate, the person. What I’m all about. You don’t know how much I care about my relationships with the fans and city in which I play.
Later, Tate suggests that people try to abide by the Golden Rule:
The false rumors about me served to open my eyes and sensitize me to what I read or hear in the media. Imagine, for a moment, walking in my shoes — having malicious and damaging accusations flying fast and furious, only you had no way of stemming the tide; no one person to call out and demand a retraction and an apology from. Now, imagine yourself squarely in the public eye, facing thousands of people lambasting you for something you didn’t say or do.

DeAngelo Williams was right
. In the Internet era, stories like these live on — in search engines, in archives, and in the minds of fans watching the game. They will never fully go away, regardless of how I address them and how others debunk them. I actually learned something through all of this, it’s my Golden Rule, so to speak: “Treat others as you would like to be treated — especially on social media.”

In Martin Luther's Small Catechism, the Reformer explains the meaning of the Eighth Commandment, first given by God to the human race through Moses at Mount Sinai:
We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
In other words, we human beings are called to strive to find to think and say the best about others whenever possible. 

Knowing that this is God's will for us should stop everyone in our tracks to confess our sins to God and turn to Him for the forgiveness and renewal He offers to us through Jesus Christ.

For Christians to know that this is God's will for us should motivate us, out of simple gratitude for Christ's cross and empty tomb and the grace that saves from sin and death all who believe in Christ, to ask God to help us always strive to "put the best construction on everything" done by our neighbors, whether they live next door, serve in the White House or Congress, or play in the NFL.

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